I'm fortunate to have grown up with all four of my grandparents. The memories I have from them watching us show our cattle at the county fair, teaching me how to play golf in the pasture behind our house to the annual Christmas decorating and cookie making.
My first year out of college I was getting a little home sick around the holidays. I knew I would be home for Christmas, but needed to experience a little taste of home. So, I called up grandma and asked if she would share her recipe with me. I've been making the cookies every year since this first Christmas away from home. I did ask her permission before sharing the recipe, and in her true grandma fashion, she said, "well sure." So I hope you enjoy!
Ingredients (this recipe can be easily doubled)
2 1/4 c flour
1/4 t salt
2 t baking powder
1/2 c shortening (I like to use the butter flavored version)
1 c sugar
2 eggs beaten
1/2 t vanilla (use real vanilla extract, it's worth the cost)
1 T milk
1/2-1 c of flour for rolling the dough
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. First mix your flour, salt and baking powder in a medium sized bowl. In a large bowl, mix the shortening, sugar, eggs, vanilla and milk. I like to use hand mixer to get the dough mixed well. After you have your mixture creamed together, slowly add the flour mixture. Next I like to chill the dough for at least 4 hours. I like to split the dough into two halves and wrap them in plastic wrap for the chilling.
Chilling the dough helps the shortening to firm up and I think it makes the dough easier to roll out. Make sure you have a clean surface that has been dusted with the extra flour. Take your dough and add little extra flour to the top as you begin to roll it out. This will help it roll easier without sticking to the rolling pin. I recommend rolling the dough to 1/4-1/2" thick. Then use your cookie cutters to make your cookies. It helps to make "clean cuts" with your cookie cutters it sometimes helps to dip them in flour first.
Cook your cookies for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees and let cool on a cooling rack.
After your cookies are cool, it's time to decorate! This is the best part in my opinion. I think that cookie decorating is a fun, interactive activity for all ages. We just had a Christmas party and I made the cookies, colored the icing, but created a cookie decorating station. It was proof that cookies are great for all ages.
If you are looking for the perfect cookie cutters, icing gels, sugars, color or any other fun baking goodies, check out my friends at Sweet! Baking and Candy Making Supply. If you live in Kansas, they have locations in Topeka and Lawrence, but they also have a great online store.